23 November 2011

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: ROOTS

     "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"
 Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
     I never realized I would miss Thanksgiving so much. I knew I couldn't spend the Christmas holidays away from my family, but I thought I could easily stay in Canada for Thanksgiving and save the travel headaches and airfare. After all, the day would be like every other workday here in Toronto, and I would not feel as though I was missing anything.
     I was wrong. I am missing it already, and it is only Wednesday.
     I thought buying a turkey and pumpkin pie would suffice, but I was wrong..
     People outside the United States, I have found, don't quite "get" the significance of Thanksgiving in the States. They understand only that it is another holiday with a big dinner, or that the day is a prelude to Black Friday shopping. I don't think I myself "got' it until this week, when I realized that, while I will have my turkey dinner and pumpkin pie, I will not have my family with me, and I will not be in South Jersey. I won't have my roots, neither personal or geographic.
     Thanksgiving is all about roots. Americans hunger for roots, perhaps because we are immigrants and descendants of immigrants, descendants of go-west-young-man-ers and climb-up-the-social-ladder-ers. We, personally or ancestrally, at one time pulled up our roots and stepped into the world, looking to reinvent ourselves or lose our pasts or follow opportunity. Ahh, but those roots regenerate--either in our hearts or in the hearts of our descendants.
     Americans will travel great distances and go through tremendous difficulties in order to be with certain people or be in a certain place on Thanksgiving. They will wait hours in airports and will inch along gridlocked interstates. They will spend thousands on airfare and travel expenses. Many will reach out to strangers to share a human touch on this day. They will do all this even though they know Aunt Sue will make them wince at least once, Grandpa will snore in the armchair, and their bratty nephew will kick the chair legs and tease his sister throughout dinner.They are not spending all that time and money and patience and emotion simply to eat dry turkey and catch a few televised football games.
     It's all about the need to go back, to touch base, to feel roots.
     Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.